OTTAWA — Conservative MP Alice Wong says she was riding a bus back from Parliament Hill when she started to feel intimidated by a fellow passenger.
“(He) stopped and hovered over me, began to wave his hand in my face, chastise me and intimidated me,” Wong, the MP for Richmond Centre, B.C., said Thursday in the House of Commons as she rose on a point of order.
She was talking about Liberal MP Adam Vaughan (Spadina — Fort York, Ont.), whom she accused of confronting her on the bus Wednesday over something she had said during question period earlier that day.
Intimidating me in that bus, I don’t think this is the proper way of behaviour as a member of Parliament.Conservative MP Alice Wong
The Conservative MP had shouted something out of turn during an exchange on Canada joining the Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, a moment of heckling that prompted the Speaker to remind her she should not be yelling when she does not have the floor.
So, that was the topic of conversation, but Wong, 69, said in an interview that Vaughan behaved in such a way that when she got off the bus, she said to everyone around her: “This is a form of elder abuse!”
She said she is always up for a debate, but believed this was something else.
“I am not afraid of doing that, but intimidating me in that bus, I don’t think this is the proper way of behaviour as a member of Parliament,” said Wong.
She accused Vaughan of sexism and ageism.
“He was pointing at me and then his attitude was awful, so I don’t think this is just a casual comment.”
Wong said she never felt physically threatened, but the encounter was intimidating enough she has asked a staffer to accompany her at all times, which she said is not something she usually did before.
She asked the Speaker to look into the matter and said she might raise it as a question of privilege.
Vaughan, meanwhile, said he does not share her description of events. He recalled saying one thing to counter her opinion of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and then taking a seat in silence while other MPs, mostly Conservatives, told him which issues he should really be thinking about.
If she felt intimidated, that’s wrong … she shouldn’t feel that way and if she did feel that way, she deserves an apology. Adam Vaughan, parliamentary secretary to families minister
Nevertheless, he said the issue is “not how I conduct myself and it’s not how I believe I conducted myself.” What matters is how Wong felt about it.
“If she felt intimidated, that’s wrong,” Vaughan, parliamentary secretary to Families Minister Jean-Yves Duclos, said in an interview Thursday.
“I will take responsibility for that, because she shouldn’t feel that way and if she did feel that way, she deserves an apology,” he said.
“It doesn’t matter what I think.”
Wong: I’m not doing this for myself
Vaughan apologized Thursday evening in the Commons, but Wong, who had headed off to an event after they both appeared at a committee meeting together, was not there to hear it.
Wong said she was making this an issue so that others experiencing similar things know they can and should stand up for themselves.
“I am not doing this for myself,” she said.
“I just want the truth to come out and encourage those who for various reasons have been abused, and bullied in their workplace, as women and women of multicultural background as well, to stand up and fight for their own rights.”
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Author: Joanna Smith / The Canadian Press